Plant-based diet key to alleviating severe Covid-19 symptoms
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Pretoria - Following a plant-based diet has been linked to reducing the severity of Covid-19 symptoms by 73%.
New research published in the British Medical Journal on Nutrition, Prevention & Health confirmed the suspected dietary link between Covid-19 symptoms and dietary choices.
Researchers studied frontline health-care workers in six countries – 2 884 physicians and nurses with high exposure to Covid-19 from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and the US.
The study specifically investigated the link between dietary patterns and Covid-19 symptoms. It found that plant-based diets decreased chances of experiencing severe Covid-19 symptoms by 73%. Compared with those who followed plant-based diets, those on low carbohydrate, high protein diets had threefold higher odds of moderate-to-severe symptoms.
Despite these findings, no association was observed between diet and the duration or infection of Covid-19.
Other epidemiological studies have also shown that fruit and vegetable intake could be associated with a lower risk of upper-respiratory tract infection such as colds, influenza, or sinusitis.
More studies have also picked up a link between diet and comobidities, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, atheriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and hypertension, which increased the risk for severe Covid-19 symptoms.
Registered dietitian Michelle Zietsmansaid: “This research is in line with what we would expect – fruits and vegetables contribute greatly to good gut health, which plays an important role in supporting the immune system.”
Professor Andrew Robinson, Deputy Dean at North West University’s Health Science Faculty, and co-founder of the Physicians Association for Nutrition South Africa, said a move towards a more plant-based food system was an important part of an effective pandemic strategy, that had to be considered by stakeholders and households.
“Research indicates that the most effective way to mitigate the risk of future pandemics, and the risk of suffering severe symptoms associated with the current pandemic, is to significantly change our food system –moving away from industrial animal agriculture and fishing, and to increase the plant-based foods we produce and consume.”